So, I watched I ❤ Huckabees with Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin, Mark Wahlberg, Jason Schwartzman, Jude Law, Isabelle Huppert, and Naomi Watts.
The movie was recommended to me and, as per usual, I approached it with little knowledge of what the movie was about. In this case though, knowing about it would have made very little difference in the movie watching experience.
Synopsis (with some spoilers):
Albert Markovski (Schwartzman) is the charter head of an environmental protection group. However, he isn’t very satisfied with his understanding of life. Thus he approached existential detectives Bernard and Vivian Jaffe (Hoffman and Tomlin), and asks them to make sense of three encounters he had with a stranger (encounters he refuses to deem as coincidental). In the process of getting “dismantled” till he finds the truth about “infinity” (the interconnectedness of all living things), Albert makes a friend in Tommy Corn (Wahlberg) who is facing his own existential crisis regarding petroleum usage. In his professional life, Albert is trying to save a marshland and therefore chooses to partner up with rising corporate star Brad Stand (Law) and his mall franchise, Huckabees. However, because of Stand’s ambitious climb up the professional ladder, Albert gets usurped and loses his job, causing him to become disheartened by the Jaffe’s belief in infinity. In this stage of disillusionment he meets Caterine Vauban (Huppert), a French existentialist who promotes the young men to nihilism.
In a general sense, the acting was decent. Nothing particularly memorable. Wahlberg’s character was funny because he played the entire role with a complete straight face; he played a very typical Wahlberg aggressive and serious character. The movie itself had an interesting grainy quality, which gave the film a slightly nostalgic, and slightly timeless, feel; this probably was related to the “universality” of the film’s message.
That concept of searching for the self and realizing that despite all the negativity in the world (which is bound to exist and to happen) we, as humans, are all connected with each other, is not a novel concept. Nor is it a common experience; humans have a high tendency of experiencing existential crises. I think this is what makes the movie so relatable. Because we are prone to experiencing the doubt and confusion the characters in the film were experiencing (except maybe not about petroleum…). The movie takes a common internal struggle and externalizes it with the presence of three existential detectives and facilitators (the Jaffe’s and Vauban), thus humanizing that struggle a bit (generalizing it to be a common experience).
However, the movie did have its failings. Everything seemed exaggerated, over-the-top, and random. This did add hilarity, but sometimes the screen was filled with people shouting all over the place; one or twice, I understand, we’re talking about existential crises, but it became a common trend, as if the shouting would always add to the humor of the movie. (It did sometimes, but other times it was just a headache). Furthermore, there was a very strange sex scene in a mud puddle. I really can’t make sense of where the movie was going with that…was it supposed to be funny, or was there some deeper metaphorical meaning embedded in it (becoming one with nature, or letting go of all inhibitions and tapping into one’s wild side, or something else along those lines)? In any case, the scene was, needless to say,…unique from most I have seen.
At the end of the day my experience with I Heart Huckabees boils down to a movie with an interesting premise and with philosophical ideas that were delivered humorously (most of the time). One of the more memorable movies I’ve seen? Not really. Did I enjoy watching it? Yeah.